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October 01, 2006

Wanna Take a Family Ski Trip--Don't Skip School

The attendance Nazi's are out in force in California. This article from the Ventura County Star talks about California's anti-truancy policies:

Parents who are thinking of taking their kids out of school for a few days to visit their grandparents or enjoy some uncrowded skiing in Mammoth might want to think again. School attendance policies have gotten stricter over the past few years, catching some families by surprise.

The reasons, educators say, are both financial and academic. School districts lose money if kids aren't in class. Plus districts are under pressure to make sure students do well on state and national tests, so educators want kids at school.
There was a time when schools got funding if a student's absence was excused, that is, if the child was sick or had a doctor's appointment, but that changed about five years ago. These days, schools get state funding only when children are actually in their seats. If a student is absent, whether that absence is excused or not, the school loses money, about $35 per kid per day.

"It doesn't matter if they're sick or skiing; we don't get the money," said Tony Knight, superintendent of the Oak Park Unified School District. "If a kid's out for a week, that's a pretty substantial amount of money."
Under the state education code, students who have three or more unexcused absences in any year are considered truants. They're also considered truants if they're more than 30 minutes late for class three or more times. That means that even high-achieving districts have a high percentage of truants. In the Conejo Valley Unified School District, for example, 21 percent of students were truants last year under the state's standards, said Deputy Superintendent Richard Simpson.

Many parents believe the stricter attendance policies are unreasonable. Schools should not be penalized when kids get sick, they say. Parents should also be able to take their children on trips that may be even more educational than a week in the classroom.

My son Jake is a straight A student. He is bored most days in school. I love his teachers the last two or three years and they are genuinely good folks who do their best, but I am his parent. I decide what is in his best interests. I understand that the government may not agree that skiing trips are beneficial, but the government has also stopped funding athletics or even PE in school. They don't teach Art or Music in many places. So it becomes the parent's responsibility to demonstrate good and wholesome recreation like skiing.

Now for those of you that believed any of that, good for you. That is the line that I give my wife and anyone else that would question the merit of me skipping work and Jake skipping school to ski that Monday and Tuesday that we both were supposed to be back and stay the extra powder day. IT IS EDUCATIONAL TOO. I AM TEACHING THE VALUES OF RECREATION TO CREATE A WELL ROUNDED CHILD.

And to the school and educators that are worried about their $35 per day of funding in California, tough. Sorry. And I wish more parents home schooled. The entire educational system is out of touch when they start telling parents aren't smart enough to decide for themselves what is important for their own children. Thanks Nanny State.

Posted by Justin at October 1, 2006 09:24 PM